No fair go for Christchurch gym

A Fair Go television item featuring women trying to get out of contracts at temporarily closing gyms in Christchurch has been found to be misleading by the Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA).

In the Television New Zealand (TVNZ) show’s item, nine “furious” women were interviewed who wanted to cancel their contracts because two gyms were closing or relocating following the February 2011 earthquake.

The women claimed they could not cancel their contracts without losing out financially, and that their issues related solely to relocation.

Comments made by the women about the gyms included: “I’m angry. I’m out of pocket,” and “They haven’t handled it professionally and they’ve shown no respect for their clients.”

The reporter said: “If they [gym members] wanted out of the contract and they’d paid in advance, they lost big time.”

But John Moore, from Configure Express Northlands, complained to the BSA saying the interviews relating to his gym were unfair and inaccurate because the women’s circumstances were unique and did not relate just to the gym’s relocation.

One woman said she was going to have to pay $575 to get out of the gym contract, but Moore said it was because she simply owed the gym money, not because of an extortionate cancellation fee.

Another woman said she had paid 18 months in advance and would be $1000 out of pocket, but her contract was cancelled for reasons unrelated to the relocation, and she had been fully refunded.

The BSA said the item made the gym look like it was acting unfairly, and that those who paid in advance had suffered significantly.

“Only one other woman in the item referred to a specific amount of money paid in advance,” the BSA said.

“If the comments by the two women were removed, all that was left was one reference to a specific amount, the reporter’s statement that the other members had to pay $80 in lieu of a month’s notice.”

Because Moore “persistently” clarified the women’s positions with TVNZ before the show went to air, the BSA found TVNZ did not make a reasonable effort to make sure the item was not misleading.

The authority also found the item left out important information about the women’s circumstances.

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